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2<5o                              THE GAY GENIUS

tired of constantly brushing off the market flies. Not only Su him-
self but his friends Chin Kuan, Huang Tingchien, Wang Kung and
Sun Chueh were constantly made targets of criticism, either in formal
protests or by the more subtle method of a smear campaign. The method
of working by underhand grape-vine rumours, leaving a man no
chance to defend himself, is by no means a modern invention; only
in modern days has it been elevated into a part of Communist revolu-,
tionary tactics. Su Tungpo felt as if he were walking upon a snake-
infested slime pit. He decided to get out.

" He had tried to resign during the first attack, in December 1086,
and in the following year kept begging for release from his post. Two
of these letters contain autobiographical material outlining his long
official career and the many troubles he had got into through his head-
strong individualism. In the letter dated October 17, 1088, he said:
"When a ruler is not careful, he loses his minister, and when a minister
is not careful, he loses his life. In serving a ruler, one should serve th^
country first, but in order to be able to serve the country, one should
first preserve his own life." In two years' time he had "four times
received smears" from his enemies, and people recommended by him
were also under attack by groundless slanders. He reminded the
Empress that in the previous regime he already had been impeached
by Leeding. He had written satirical poetry in the hope that th&
Emperor might hear of the people's sufferings and change his policy.
The censors had called his honest criticism "slander", and there was
some "semblance of truth" in the accusation. Now there was-not even
a semblance, such as in the criticism of his use of the phrase, "the peopiel
were weary and hard pressed." "This only shows that these people are
even more determined than Leeding to overthrow me by all methods
at their command. ... As the ancient saying has it: 'It is difficult to
be a king, but it is not easy to be a minister, either/ If I were to
follow the herd and try to please everybody, I would be acting against
my conscience and be disloyal to Your Majesty. But if I should try to
maintain my integrity and continue to speak the truth, I would be
making more and more enemies and eventually be punished by death
or dismissal. I hope Your Majesty will appreciate my difficult position
and protect me by sending me to a less enviable post." In this letter
he wrote four postscripts, marked P.S., P.P.S., P.P.P.S., and"
P.P.P.P.S. In the last of them he said that if she considered that
the things he said were not true, she could turn this letter over to
the premier's office and have a public investigation. But if she believed
that fie was telling the truth, would she please keep this letter to her-
self? He would send another formal letter of resignation, aslcing for
a post; in the country, which could be published.
The best letter expressing his determination to get out was written